MORRIS COUNTY — The Mental Health Association of Essex & Morris has scheduled a Zoom meeting next week to inform parents of school-age children of the warning signs of suicide, after launching a school-based prevention program that sparked wide community interest.
Morris County SealThe Zoom meeting, set for 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 30, follows a collaborative effort by the Morris County Board of Freeholders and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris to introduce a universal, school-based suicide prevention program for middle and high school-aged students who may be feeling stress and isolation during the current COVID-19 restrictions. News of school districts being invited to learn more about the school-based program earlier this month prompted many residents to request that parents also be provided information on understanding signs of suicide.
To join the Zoom meeting, “Suicide Prevention: Presentation for Parents of School-Age Children,” parents are being asked to RSVP by email to [email protected].
The session follows a series of presentations made to the school Logo for Mental Health Association of Essex and Morrispersonnel earlier this month. Freeholder Kathryn DeFillippo, the board liaison to Human Services agencies and programs, sent a letter to school superintendents throughout Morris County inviting them to assign three key school district personnel, ranging from counselors and teachers to administrative staff, to learn more about the program through virtual presentations that began on December 1.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic began in New Jersey, stay at home orders, self-quarantines, social distancing, and virtual learning were implemented to combat the virus. While these practices helped reduce the spread of COVID-19, they also induced anxiety, depression, fear, and loneliness among members of the community including school-aged young adults,” DeFillippo wrote in the letter.
Following a June 2020 survey of 5,412 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in August that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 said they had considered suicide because of the pandemic. The survey indicated a general spike in anxiety and substance abuse among the respondents, with more than 40 percent saying they experienced a mental or behavioral health condition connected to the COVID-19 emergency.